SYSTEM OF A DOWN Singer To Fight On Over New Zealand Property

Louisa Cleave of The New Zealand Herald has issued the following report:

An American singer has not given up finding a home in New Zealand after officials turned down his application to buy a west coast beach property.

Serj Tankian from the band SYSTEM OF A DOWN told the Herald he was "pretty disappointed" the Overseas Investment Commission rejected his proposal to buy a mainly bush-covered 13.69ha site in Bethells Beach.

"I have learned an important lesson. I cannot place myself in any situation where someone else's decisions will affect my home," he said.

Tankian wanted to build an acoustic recording studio in an existing home on the Kokako Rd property. He proposed to identify local talent to record song demos and seek record deals for them in America.

Tankian said the commission wanted annual reports on his activities in New Zealand.

"I was cool with the first three years, but they wanted to be able to renew their ability to get reports from me and decide if I was compliant with the application.

"I couldn't agree to a governmental body checking up on me yearly and applying scientific methods to finding good music, making records, and distributing them internationally, just so I can be able to live in that house."

Tankian, who played at the Big Day Out this year, said he had fallen in love with the spirit of New Zealand, "political neutrality, cultural awareness, and environmental respect among [the attractions]".

SYSTEM OF A DOWN has been on a world tour and promoting a new critically acclaimed album, "Mezmerize", which entered charts around the world at No 1 in May.

"I would like to spend some time there after my touring cycle and find another place, one that won't need OIC approval, hopefully," said Tankian.

He commended New Zealand officials for protecting the country's land and resources.

Neil Finn, who provided a character reference to the commission, said it seemed incredible the application was rejected.

"Having talked with Serj myself it's obvious that he had the best intentions for the preservation of the land in its natural state.

"His band sells millions of records and he is a principled and charming man."

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